Intelligent Design

Some Distinctions Make a Difference

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Central ascribes to me this statement: “[The holocaust is] obviously evil, and if you don’t agree with me, you’re evil too.” And he asks me why I refuse to give a similar answer with respect to the Canaanites. Here is the difference between my demand for a “yes or no” answer regarding the holocaust and my refusal to give a simple “yes or no” answer regarding the Canaanites: The Nazis never claimed to be under a divine command to exterminate the Jews. They claimed their actions were based on their desire for racial cleansing within their territories.

Central suggests that it is at least conceivable that someone could come up with a justification for the holocaust (e.g., the killers thought the Jews were demons). That suggestion is irrelevant. We know why the Nazis did it. They told us, and given the Nazis’ self-reported justification for their actions, it is not possible to view the holocaust as other than objectively evil That is the very reason it is often used as the very paradigm of unspeakable evil.

I asked nightlight to admit that the holocaust was evil, yes or no. Instead he blithered about the cosmos and “different evaluations,” etc. So yes, I stand by my statement: A person such as nightlight who refuses to admit the holocaust was evil in fact participates to some extent in that evil and is therefore himself evil. Every time a person fails to condemn the holocaust in the strongest possible terms, that person makes the risk of another holocaust just a little higher. And that person should be shunned, shamed and condemned at every opportunity.

9 Replies to “Some Distinctions Make a Difference

  1. 1
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    Barry, you might want to rephrase how you put it here.

    Here is the difference between my demand for a “yes or no” answer regarding the holocaust and my refusal to give a simple “yes or no” answer regarding the Canaanites: The Nazis never claimed to be under a divine command to exterminate the Jews. They claimed their actions were based on their desire for racial cleansing within their territories.

    As it stands, you could be interpreted as saying that if the Nazis had claimed to be under a divine command, then — under that condition — you would refuse to given a simple ‘yes or no’ answer. From that, it would seem that the only reason why you’re willing to give a straight-up “yes!” is because the Nazis didn’t appeal to divine command to justify their actions. So I suggest you rephrase your thought here a bit.

  2. 2
    Brent says:

    God didn’t command genocide, period. He commanded the total destruction of a people group. Yeah, yeah. I know.

    When someone is killed we don’t automatically get to call it murder. There are certain criteria that must be met before a killing is called a murder. There are killings that are justified. There are annihilations of people groups that are justified.

    If we found a people group that was hell-bent on killing every person outside their own society, they would deserve to be wiped out (even though they are following their morality, right naturalists???).

  3. 3
    Barry Arrington says:

    KN @ 1: “As it stands, you could be interpreted as saying that if the Nazis had claimed to be under a divine command, then — under that condition — you would refuse to given a simple ‘yes or no’ answer. From that, it would seem that the only reason why you’re willing to give a straight-up “yes!” is because the Nazis didn’t appeal to divine command to justify their actions.”

    Thank you for this KN. But I stand by my statement as written. If, counter to the facts, the Nazis had claimed to be acting under divine command, I would have rejected their asserted justification, but I would have at least evaluated it first.

    The situation you bring up is no different from current Islamist terrorism, and the analysis goes like this:

    If the God of Islam is the true God, the author of all creation and the giver of all life; and

    If the true God commanded his followers to fly airplanes into buildings killing thousands;

    Then the 9/11 terrorists were not evil.

    The argument is valid but not sound.

    Neither of the premises is true; therefore the conclusion is not true. My point is that I will evaluate the Islamists justifications, reject them, and conclude that their acts were evil.

    With the Nazis there is no need to do this, because their justification is itself evil and does nothing to mitigate the evil acts they took based on that justification.

  4. 4
    goodusername says:

    As it stands, you could be interpreted as saying that if the Nazis had claimed to be under a divine command, then — under that condition — you would refuse to given a simple ‘yes or no’ answer.

    Hitler and other Nazis did regularly claim to be under divine command to remain “racially pure,” although I’m not sure if the same could be said specifically for the holocaust (as they never seemed to speak directly of it).

  5. 5
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    Barry, it sounds like you want to say that some justification don’t have the right form to confer moral acceptability on any action, whereas other justifications do have at least the right form, even if the specific action falls short of acceptability in light of that justificatory form. That’s interesting, and sounds right to me.

  6. 6
    Alan Fox says:

    And that person should be shunned, shamed and condemned at every opportunity.

    And what about demonizing homosexuals? I hope Barry would not support their extermination. Where would he draw the line, I wonder. I know he is against their appearing as genuine couples in public. I suspect he would not allow gay couples to have legally recognised formal relationships.

  7. 7
    Mung says:

    Alan Fox:

    I suspect he would not allow gay couples to have legally recognised formal relationships.

    Moron.

  8. 8
    Robert Byers says:

    The holocaust was evil because it was murdering people. that is unjustified execution by men motives.
    The nazi executed the jews for the public reason that they were a successful dominating race/nation that was destroying, past and present, German and European civilization.
    That is what they would tell you. its nothing to do with race. thats a excuse to hide this motivation. I think they had another secret motivation .
    anyways.
    The canaanites deserved being killed because THEY were the evil ones.
    murderers etc. all of them and the children.
    god gave them time and time was up.
    It shows how serious God is about evil. Just like us.
    it was not murder by God or man against the canaanites.
    it was just execution.
    Remember it was at Noahs time that Canaan , first born, was curded because of the drunk Noah incident.

  9. 9
    Alan Fox says:

    I suspect he would not allow gay couples to have legally recognised formal relationships.

    I should have added;

    …were he in a position to decide the law on the issue.

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